Volunteer to be the one who goes early to get in line.
Meet your date with a basketful of goodies at a park, the city square or your own yard.
Do an online search for "pay what you can" or "pay what you will" and you can find theaters, museums or comedy clubs open at certain times for whatever you feel like offering to pay.
If a person isn't willing or potentially able to be accommodating to me in order to make social, let alone potential romantic, situations easier for me to navigate, then it is better I know that right away than waste my time, and theirs, on a relationship that won't work for either of us in the long term.
If dining in darkness doesn't create a bond between you, it probably wasn't meant to be...
Some dates are extremely formal: your best clothes, a swell restaurant, a show or concert, and a nightcap at a classy bar.